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NYC Plastic Bag Fee Scrapped by State Legislature

plastic bagA fee on single-use plastic and paper bags has been scrapped by New York state lawmakers, who this week reached an agreement to halt the New York city 5-cent bag tax indefinitely.

The New York City policy was set to kick in on Feb. 15 at retail stores in the city, with retailers keeping the revenue from the fee.

Yesterday the state Assembly approved a bill to block the city’s bag fee. The state Senate passed the bill on Monday. It is now under review in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

If the governor signs it into law, the New York City Council could approve another bag fee in 2018.

Proponents of the the plastic bag fee argue it will encourage shoppers to carry reusable bags, and keep plastic bags out of landfills, the ocean and other sensitive environments.

The city’s sanitation department says New York City spends $12.5 million a year to dispose of single-use carryout bags in landfills and even more to clean them off beaches, parks and other public spaces.

But opponents said it would place an economic burden on city residents and businesses and increase health risks due to cross-contamination of food when reusable bags replace disposable bags.

In a press release Sen. Simcha Felder (D, Brooklyn), who led the effort to block the bag tax, said: “We all care about the environment and want to make a difference. How do we get there? By taking our state’s existing recycling law and enforcing it. We can even encourage good policy by giving New Yorkers incentives. But please stop punishing them. New Yorkers are sick of being over-fined, over-taxed and over-ticketed. They understand recycling. It’s the law, it’s the right thing to do, and everyone knows that except, apparently, Mayor de Blasio.”

The New York Legislature’s votes are the latest shots fired in the ongoing debate about the environmental and social implications of plastic bag bans.

In November California voters shot down a very expensive attempt to overturn its bag ban — the first statewide ban on single use plastic bag in the US. Plastic bag manufactures raised about $6.1 million to overturn the policy while its supporters, including Albertsons Safeway and the California Grocers Association, raised about $1.4 million to keep the fee in place.

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9 thoughts on “NYC Plastic Bag Fee Scrapped by State Legislature

  1. Gov. Cuomo needs to sign this bill ASAP before this ridiculous nickel fee for our plastic and paper bags which is really a regressive tax as it hurts the working poor and middle class more than the rich. Sen. Felder needs to be congratulated for standing up and doing the right thing for 99.9% of the residents of NY.

    • Compared to CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA and several other competing, GREENER states, NEW YORK STATE can be backwards and anti-Green in environmental protection actions and actual passed laws.NEW YORK CITY–home to Trump and Clinton–is still (since 2012) TRAVEL+LEISURE’s #1 “America’s Dirtiest City” for excess, ILLEGAL waste, water and air pollution. NY STATE, along with TEXAS, are largest states in America NOT mandating recycling in Cities, Boroughs, Counties.

  2. A similar law has been enforced in the UK and it has resulted in a massive drop in the use of plastic bags, but absolutely no reports of problems from cross-contamination of food. The law does provide certain exemptions, such as no fees for bags containing fresh food. It’s been a huge success in the UK.

  3. If I don’t pay 5 cents for a plastic shopping bag, I have to buy plastic garbage bags – I use one bag for kitchen waste every couple of days. So why not allow me to use a shopping bag instead of having to buy something else.

    • Compared to CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA and several other competing, GREENER states, NEW YORK STATE can be backwards and anti-Green in environmental protection actions and actual passed laws. NEW YORK CITY–home to Trump and Clinton–is still (since 2012) TRAVEL+LEISURE’s #1 “America’s Dirtiest City” for excess, ILLEGAL waste, water and air pollution.

  4. @Duncan, no you don’t – you could just buy a non-plastic, re-usable bag, like one made from cloth or linen. And they look much nicer and are much stronger than plastic bags.

  5. Getting plastic bags out of the environment is very important. Recycling is 2nd, not using is first. One of the saddest stories I have seen recently is about a young whale starving to death because its stomach was full of plastic bags. If 5 cents hurts the poor, then we really need to push for living wages.

    • Agree about NY State and City being behind on protecting the environment, as compared to CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA and several other competing, GREENER states. NEW YORK CITY–home to Trump and Clinton–is still (since 2012) TRAVEL+LEISURE’s #1 “America’s Dirtiest City” for excess, ILLEGAL waste, water and air pollution.

  6. Not Surprised! Compared to CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA and several other competing, GREENER states, NEW YORK STATE can be backwards and anti-Green in environmental protection actions and actual passed laws.NEW YORK CITY–home to Trump and Clinton–is still (since 2012) TRAVEL+LEISURE’s #1 “America’s Dirtiest City” for excess, ILLEGAL waste, water and air pollution. NY STATE, along with TEXAS, are largest states in America NOT mandating recycling in Cities, Boroughs, Counties.

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